February 11, 2008

Tom Lantos, RIP

Rep Tom Lantos (D-CA) has died this morning, apparently from esophageal cancer. The 80-year-old Democrat came to the United States as a refugee of the Holocaust, becoming the only such person elected to Congress:

Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress, has died, his spokeswoman said Monday. ...

Lantos, who referred to himself as "an American by choice," was born to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary, and was 16 when Adolf Hitler occupied Hungary in 1944. He survived by escaping twice from a forced labor camp and coming under the protection of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who used his official status and visa-issuing powers to save thousands of Hungarian Jews.

Lantos' mother and much of his family perished in the Holocaust.

That background gave Lantos a moral authority unique in Congress and he used it repeatedly to speak out on foreign policy issues, sometimes courting controversy. He was a strong supporter of Israel and a lead advocate for the 2002 congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq war, though he would come to be a strong critic of the Bush administration's strategy there. In 2006 Lantos was one of five members of Congress arrested in a protest outside the Sudanese Embassy over the genocide in Darfur.

Lantos chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee. While I have found plenty about Lantos' efforts to criticize, he has provided the Democrats with one of their saner voices on national defense and foreign policy. Whatever opinions the man brought to Congress, no one could accuse him of generating them in a reality vacuum.

A few of my Lantos links:

* Approving of his efforts to withhold aid to Lebanon until they addressed the problem of Hezbollah
* Approving of his approach to UN reform, as an interim step
* Disapproving of his opposition to earmark transparency

Lantos served his nation well, and he will be missed on both sides of the aisle.

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin recalls his scolding of Europe over Guantanamo Bay.


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» R.I.P. Tom Lantos from Public Secrets: from the files of the Irishspy
I read the sad news this morning of the death of Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA) at age 80 from esophageal cancer. Lantos had served nearly 30 years in the House, representing California's 12th district. A liberal Democrat, there's little Lantos [Read More]

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